[ISEA97] Artist Statement: Laurel Woodcock – Advisory Warning

Artist Statement

Two glass shelves, LCD monitor, VCR, helping hand, 2.5″ x 3.5″ (business format) cards with text, interactive phone service, circular leica spotlight.

“Fear is a staple of popular culture and politics”. _Brian Massumi, The Politics of Everyday Fear.

The installation consists of 2 small glass shelves. One displays a color monitor depicting looped footage of a tornado, the other proffers cards (business format) with a text culled, and altered slightly, from a horoscope which uses weather as a metaphor for inner turmoil. The cards, which can be taken by viewers, offers an extended prediction by phone. When called, the listener can select from 3 menus, all of which refer critically yet playfully to various phone phenomena in our culture today. “Much like cultural industry, astrology tends to do away with the distinction of fact and fiction: its content is often overrealistic while suggesting attitudes which are based on an entirely irrational source, such as the advise to forbear entering into business ventures on some particular day”. Theodor Adorno, The Stars Down to Earth Hope, has taken on new proportions of currency in these hard economic times, where amidst other mass phenomena, we witness the popularity of psychic phone lines advertised in late night infomercials. The popular occult and capitalism have joined forces in what Adorno would describe as “authoritarian irrationalism”. The fictional and irrational dimensions of this psychological dependency within culture today are displayed in the economical realm of the business card.

  • Laurel Woodcock [1960 – 2017] (Canada) was an artist and writer living in Montreal. After obtaining her MFA at NSCAD (Nova Scotia College of Art and Design) in 1992, she returned to Montreal where she  teached [in 1997] in the Interdisciplinary Studies Programme at Concordia University and the Cinema Communications Programme at Dawson College. She liked to think of her work as sentimental conceptualism, where the slippery subtexts of popular culture and technology are investigated from affec­tive and humorous states. Utilizing archaic recordings of pop­ular songs, the iconic laughter of a female sit-corn star (Roseanne), pulp horoscopes, and interactive phone lines, her work participated in the pleasure of such vernacular, while critiquing the reduction of emotional states and eco­nomic needs to the equivalent of sound bytes.